|Ferdinand and Isabella - wedding portrait (Wikipedia)|
From America’s Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis [bold and bullets added]:
In 1469…teenage cousins Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile were married. Isabella and Ferdinand were a remarkable couple whose successes inIsabella turned down arranged marriages and chose to marry second cousin Ferdinand, who was no shy consort material. By the age of 17 Ferdinand had already led troops into battle and fathered children by two different women.
uniting several fractious small kingdoms into a nation [Spain], eliminating the last vestiges of Islamic power in Iberia, revving up the Inquisition, and setting Spain on a path of world domination
were extraordinary by any measure.
“No woman in history has exceeded her achievement.” - Hugh Thomas, Rivers of Gold
In modern tabloid parlance, he’d be headlined a “hunk.” In fact the pair would have been People magazine’s dream royals. The tall, blue-eyed beauty Isabella and the muscular Ferdinand would have dwarfed most contemporary celebrity couples.Moderns will quail at the brutality of those whom history has labeled great, but one truth is that in Isabella’s time everyone behaved savagely, the Moors whom “Ferdabella” drove from Spain, the French whom the Spaniards battled in the New World, and the “Indians” in what was to become America.
Nevertheless in the annals of atrocities there are few rivals to the cruelty of the Spanish Inquisition, which tortured and killed Protestants and Jews during Isabella’s reign, or the death and destruction wrought by the Spanish conquistadores who came after Columbus and Isabella. Another Spanish first---years after Isabella's reign but a direct consequence of the forces that she set in motion--was slavery:
Menendez also brought along Africans as "laborers" [in 1565], which should properly give Spain---not the English in Jamestown in 1619---the distinction of introducing African slaves to what would become the United States.Not all of Isabella’s “achievements” may be praiseworthy, but they had a profound influence on the world that exists today.